Hi, Dr. NerdLove,
So, I’m writing with something of a convoluted story. I’ll try to keep it brief: I’m in a band with my ex-girlfriend. The band pre-dated our relationship, and when the relationship ended, we decided to keep the band going. A couple months after that relationship ended and that decision was made, I started seeing someone new. This person, with whom I have now been together for almost 2 years, doesn’t like that I’m in a band with my ex, and we have had repeated, massive fights about it. She is not being totally irrational about it – my ex, when I first told her I had started seeing someone new, kind of flipped out on me, and I, wanting to be fully honest with my new girlfriend, told her about that. My ex also was not the best to me in our relationship, not telling me she had herpes, with led to my developing it. And, again, I was honest with my new girlfriend about this. My current girlfriend thinks it is unfair to her that I have decided to keep this person in my life in any capacity.
But. The fact of the matter is that I have zero interest in any romantic rekindling with my ex. Absolutely zero, and I’ve looked at this and examined my feelings on it from every angle, including with my therapist. I simply want to continue to play in a band with this person. And my ex, while, yes, she did freak out at me a little when I told her I was seeing something new, quickly moved past that, apologized, and has been absolutely fine in terms of respecting boundaries since then. In two years, there has not even been an inkling of the possibility of one or the other of us trying to rekindle anything. She and I are friendly, but we talk only about band business and see each other only at rehearsals and shows, which amounts to 2-4 hours a week. I make sure to call or text my girlfriend after every practice so she knows where I am and that there is no funny business going on. And in almost two years, my ex has in no way acted to threaten my relationship with my current girlfriend.
And yet, we (my current girlfriend and I) still fight about this, as recently as last night. To her, the existence of the situation at all is unfair to her. It doesn’t matter that there’s nothing going on or no real existential threat to the relationship – she just doesn’t like it, and she’s never going to like it. She has never given me an ultimatum, and I’m grateful for that, but the end result has been repeated, big fights, never started by me and most often not triggered by anything more than her seeing me and my ex on stage together at a show.
Now, I *just* read an article on your site about the differences between being correct and being right in an argument, and that really hit home. I know I am *correct* in that I have zero interest in any sort of romantic involvement with my ex. She has also moved on, and has had more than one boyfriend in the past two years, including a current one. We are just two people who want to play in a band together. At the same time, I am trying to honor my girlfriend’s feelings and the fact that me being “correct” about there not being a threat to the relationship because of this situation does not make me “right.”
But so, how can I do that when we are so diametrically opposed in our view on this situation? To her, the presence of an ex in my life, particularly one who treated me badly, is an offense. To me, someone coming into my life and trying to change something that is important to me that doesn’t directly affect them is not fair. And no matter how much I try to tell her that I hear her, that I’m trying to understand her POV, that I love her…and no matter how good to her I am, otherwise (she has said more than once that, other than having an ex in my band, I am the best boyfriend she’s ever had)…none of it matters as long as this situation exists.
So, what can we do? Is this situation – her not liking the existence of my ex in my life, me not liking that she doesn’t like it to the degree that it leads to screaming fights and makes me feel not trusted – sustainable? I want to be open to her POV, but not to the extent that I feel like I have to compromise certain emotional truths I know about myself and the way I handle my life, because I feel like that’s not healthy, either.
Obviously, I didn’t keep it short. I’m so upset by all of this. Help?